Roger Harty: The Real Meaning Of The Word Religion

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THE word Religion has got a lot of bad press of recent years and many would say ‘quite rightly so’, but I would like to say that we have to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

To begin with, no one holds ownership over the word religion. For instance you have the Catholic religion, the Protestant religion, the Muslim religion, the Hindu religion, the Sikh religion, the Bahai religion, the Buddhist religion, and many, many more.

In my opinion, the real power that exists within religion is hidden in the word. If you google ‘origin of the word religion’ you will see that it is of French/Latin origin coming from the word regilare meaning ‘to bind’.

Now the word ‘bind’ can also mean to ‘connect’ just like it is used for a magnet, and using this phraseology in my opinion opens up a whole lot of doors and images for us. They say a picture paints a thousand words!

In order to connect, it is first and foremost important to believe that there is a ‘Higher Power’ (call it ‘God’ if you are more comfortable with that terminology) to connect with. How can you connect if you don’t believe there is something to connect with?

So in simple terms, when we truly practice our religion we truly practice our connection with God. By doing this our ‘bonding’ increases.

In the Catholic religion, Jesus tells us how to do this when He says “be still and know that I am God”.

Another great take on the word religion is that if we use the word realignment. We are made in the image of God and are such are part of His oneness, exactly in the same way that a wave is part of the ocean.

The powerful ocean never tells the little wave that you are not part of me and similarly the little wave never tells the ocean that you are not part of me.

God never tells us that we are not part of His power, in fact He tells us that He is waiting for us to connect with His almighty power.

When we take time to ‘be still’ we are practicing our realignment in order to enhance our connection with His divine power.

Just like having a great friend – how can we develop a proper relationship if we don’t take the time to develop that relationship.

When we feel connected we feel the Love that the connection reveals. Similarly when we don’t feel the connection it gives a semblance of being lost.

The word that we use for developing that connection we call ‘prayer’.

There are many ways to ‘Pray’, but that great Saint Padre Pio says that the best way is through silent stillness.

There is a beautiful Shrine to Padre Pio in Lixnaw  Church, which is well worth a visit, and this is written up on the wall.

However it is important to state that God is always available to us. Whether we make ourselves available to Him is up to us.

That is why I love to explore the real meaning of the word Religion as it made me realise that this connection is available to all human beings if only we took the time to develop it.

• Next week I am going to write about — ‘The importance of our Heritage’

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